Investigative journalism as an eDiscovery exercise

An excellent article by Greg Bufithis called the Panama Papers, eDiscovery… and a murder in the afternoon sun is primarily about the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta.

She led the Panama Papers investigation into corruption in Malta, and the article is about that and about what Greg calls “data journalism”. He refers to the role played by Nuix in providing the processing and investigation software which enabled the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to conduct what was effectively a multi-jurisdictional, multilingual eDiscovery investigation relying on the work of journalists and others around the world.

At the 2016 Nuix User Exchange I had the pleasure of moderating a keynote discussion with Gerard Ryle, Director of the ICIJ, who told the story of the investigation and the role of Nuix and other investigative and analytical software in analysing the 11.5 million documents in 2.6 terabytes of data sent anonymously to Süddeutsche Zeitung.

In my article about the Nuix event, I said this:

While the volumes are not particularly big when compared with some modern investigations, the challenges would defeat many conventional project managers. Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca set up anonymous offshore companies for those with a wide range of motives including sovereign and individual fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and drug trafficking. People may, of course, have legitimate reasons for setting up such structures, and one of the ICIJ’s primary drivers was to focus on those things which were of genuine public interest – this was not a Wikileaks dump of bulk data but a close focus on things which mattered in the countries where the investigation was done.

Much of Greg Bufithis’ article is about this use of eDiscovery software. He says:

Its use to support investigative reporting is now common because it allows journalists the ability to analyze large data sets quickly and accurately. More and more reporters are trawling documents – whether emails, text messages, or files – to uncover the stories within. This is much the same process attorneys go through while building a case. Finding key documents and weaving them into a story is what sophisticated e-discovery was designed for.

He ends with an invitation to those who sell eDiscovery software and services to take part in the International Journalism Festival in Perugia next April.

Anyone interested in taking Greg up on this might like to contact him. The contact details are at the end of the article.

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About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
This entry was posted in Discovery, eDisclosure, eDiscovery, Electronic disclosure, Nuix, Panama Papers and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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